Call to exempt teachers from tax

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IOL gauteng education THE STAR Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi proposes a tax exemption be used as an incentive to lure more people to the teaching profession. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - Teachers will be exempt from paying income tax, among other incentives, to keep them in the public education system.

That is if Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has his way.

Speaking on Thursday at a press briefing at the Gauteng legislature after tabling the department’s 2014/15 R32.8 million budget - 75 percent of which will go to salaries - Lesufi said he was in talks with the Presidential Remuneration Commission over the tax-exemption issue.

“I know other people will say what about the police, what about nurses, (but) we’ve taken a collective decision as a country that education is a priority. So you can’t have a priority that is not given the necessary support.

“I really believe that if we can run a campaign as a country and say to the remuneration commission, give teachers their salary as it is, (and not) tax it… these teachers will remain in the system… We can gallop with all the quality education interventions.

“Good teachers are leaving the system because they’re attracted by the private sector, but if we give them the money that we believe we can, they’ll receive (a high) salary and they’ll remain in the system,” he said.

In addition, Lesufi said he intends engaging with businesses leaders, too, to discuss ways for teachers to enjoy certain benefits and privileges through reward cards, among others.

On the issue of schools in some areas standing empty while others are overburdened, Lesufi said the department would allocate funding to sought-after schools so that they can expand to accommodate more pupils, while easing the financial burden on parents and school governing bodies (SGB), who tend to be responsible for footing the maintenance bills.

He reiterated his desire to make history a compulsory subject for all pupils, saying he would request Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to use Gauteng as a pilot site to roll out the plan, as it is also on the national department’s agenda.

To improve school performance and subsequently the province’s matric pass rate in the province, the Secondary School Intervention Programme (SSIP) will be rolled out to all high schools and not just those with a pass rate below 80 percent, as was the case before, Lesufi said.

“This is to ensure that whatever knowledge gaps pupils have, they are sufficiently arrested by the time the pupil sits for the final matric exams. Through the SSIP, the department aims to support Grade 12 learners through Saturday School sessions, holiday sessions and exam camps.”

Lesufi said the department is also aiming to ensure that by 2019, 80 percent of pupils take pure maths and 20 percent take maths literacy towards getting their matric.

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